What to expect when learning how to play the guitar

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Learning how to play the guitar is not normally something that can be accomplished overnight, or even in a few weeks. Can you make a lot of overall progress in a short time? Sure, but the phrase: “Patience is a virtue…. “ is an understatement here… It will take time, time, and more time in-order-to witness significant forward progress.

But…

That’s part of the enjoyment of learning how to play if you ask me. Another common phrase (that I’ll paraphrase here) is: “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it”… is a good phrase to associate with learning the guitar (or any musical instrument – piano… ouch…)… For example, one day you will pick up your guitar and finally realize..

“Hey, you know what? It’s not that difficult to change between the “C” and the “G” chord anymore… I don’t even have to look at my fingers when I make the change either… That’s Awesome!”…

And over time, the hits will just keep coming like that. Of course, the more you practice, and how long you practice during each session makes a difference too as to how fast your progression goes. But that goes with learning just about anything in life really…

Ok, here’s a few things to expect on your guitar playing journey:

01 – Again… an investment of time

It will take time to produce the “muscle memory” necessary to get your hands and body positioning used to playing the guitar. And depending upon which type of guitar (acoustic versus electric) you start out learning to play on, determines how fast you’ll be able progress through your learning.

For example, with an acoustic guitar it is usually a little more difficult to hold down the strings when compared to an electric guitar. Therefore, for someone just starting out, I definitely recommend an electric guitar. And, I do this for a couple of different reasons:

One, you can purchase an inexpensive electric or acoustic with no difficulty what-so-ever these days; however, (in my opinion) the cheaper electric guitars follow the same rules as with the expensive guitars of both types in that they are just easier to play, take up less space, and are less likely to get accidentally damaged.

Yes, in-order-to hear it better you need an inexpensive amplifier, but the amp IS NOT necessary for the purposes of learning how to play. You can here it just fine.

02 – Slight bodily discomfort

Here, the level of discomfort (again) depends a lot upon which type of guitar you start out trying to play. Referring to the acoustic guitar again, and how difficult it can be to hold down the strings… This difficulty can cause great pain (at times) on the tips of your fingers, and even cramping in the palms of your hands (depending upon how long you’re practicing.

Of course, all of this usually goes away within a few minutes after stopping. Well, the finger pain can last a bit longer. And, if you’ve played for an hour plus, you’ll start to see indentations on the tips of your fingers that will remain for awhile.

If you play often, those indentations will tend to almost remain permanent in the form of calluses. So the indentation won’t remain, but the “remnants” – the calluses – will tend to stay the more you play (especially with an acoustic guitar).

Your back is another part of your body that could at times give you a little discomfort. This depends upon whether you tend to sit or stand when you play. Playing while seated without the proper “guitar posture” can have some negative affects over time. So, to prevent this practice proper guitar posture right from the start.

03 – Periodic successes

There will definitely be times when achieve certain milestones that put you “on top of the world.” Times when you’re finally able to play a scale from top-to-bottom without much difficulty, or when you learn a part to your favorite song.

Just learn to cherish these successes, because with some level of success also comes times where you’re not going to quite hit the mark.

04 – Periodic failures

You’ll experience times when you think you’re brain is just incapable of giving proper instructions to your fingers – like your fingers aren’t even yours. Sometimes, you’ll just not be in the right mindset to play your guitar. It happens, just accept it and pick it up again tomorrow.

Of course, there’s also times when you (or at least I have) are expecting too much too fast – where you’ve over-reached your technical abilities (for the moment). When these times arrive, just remember to do a quick “reality check” and be patient. That level of playing will arrive in time.

05 – Feeling like your not progressing fast enough, therefore feeling like you want to quit

“Patience” is a word that CANNOT be said enough here… Just wait it out. You WILL get better if you give the time and effort required to do so.

Also, DO NOT compare yourself to other players, especially in the beginning of your learning process. If you are not a patient person in general, comparing yourself to others could totally kill your motivation. Again, just WAIT IT OUT!…

6 – A desire to “upgrade” your guitar

Eventually when you DO start getting a bit better at your playing, you may be bit by the “I Need A New Guitar” bug… And he’s a pretty big bug with a pretty nasty bite. A bite that sometimes gets infected and mutates into the “I Need More Guitar Pedals, A New Bigger Amplifier” bug as well …

Don’t give in! At least, not at first. Learn to master your craft (to a decent level) with the gear you’re currently using. Besides, the longer you wait, the more you’ll learn about guitar in general and will be able to make a more educated decision on which new guitar you should buy…

07 – A desire to play with others

You WILL eventually reach a point in your playing where you will feel confident enough to want to “join a band,” or at least pull your guitar out at a social gathering of sorts. This feeling hits all of us.

08 – A need to set-aside extra money for guitarist’s accessories

Going back to “the bug(s)” from earlier… When you are in the market for a new guitar, new accessories, this will be the time when you’ve made the realization that… “ok, this is a real pursuit of mine now. Do I have the money to invest in my new found love?”

Of course, you don’t have to buy anything more at this point, or ever. I was only pointing out the point in everyone’s learning process where they finally realize, “You know what, I can actually play the guitar. I’m a ‘Guitar Player.'” And, at this point, the justification for buying “new stuff” related to guitar isn’t that “unjustified.”

In Conclusion

OK… these were just a few things to expect on your journey towards learning how to play the guitar. Some will experience only some of these, some will experience all.

All I would really like to say is… Just stay with it, don’t compare yourself others, and simply take it “day by day.”…

Hope this helps,

stephen-ruppe-signature

S. B. Ruppe

I like writing and recording music and other audio , checking out new music and recording gear, experimenting with tonal qualities, and just about anything-and-everything related to the subject of audio (music, or other wise)...

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